Reforming Higher Education

For years, some justified high pay for college educated professionals because they served as a data base for certain types of knowledge – medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, accounting or any number of other disciplines taught at the college level. But with the advances in information technology and robotics, those salaries might not be justified in the near future. Information technology is currently forcing downsizing in the law sector, as fewer lawyers are needed to research cases or produce wills, trusts and divorce decrees. And robots will eventually do the jobs of dentists and surgeons and pharmacists.

But technology encroaching on the jobs of college educated professionals doesn’t mean an end to the relevance of institutions of higher learning. Our country’s technology hubs are based around universities, as they provide the necessary research and development for the formation of such companies. However, it must be added that military research and procurement also play a role in our technology sector. In addition, academics in the humanities produce knowledge that enhances our communities, cities and country.

We must also look at the burden that student loan debt on our economy, as the more young people owe on student loans the less they spend on the consumer economy. Cities and suburban municipalities could and should charter universities for city residents, and a university education should be free to all residents. This would help combat the problem.

Reform could help our country build on its past. Doctors, lawyers and college professors didn’t always spend years in school to learn their trade. A Midwestern lawyer named Abraham Lincoln studied for the bar on his own before becoming a successful railroad lawyer and President of the United States. And in the late 1800s, the country was dotted with medical schools that would train doctors. In fact, there were more medical students back then than today, and this put the downward pressure on prices for the consumer.